Buying firewood? Don't get burned!

In Canada, firewood is usually sold at the retail level in the following two ways:

  • In bulk (larger quantities): Most bulk firewood (split or whole roundwood) is sold by stacked volume. The declaration and accuracy of the delivered quantity are regulated by the Weights and Measures Act and Regulations, which are administered by Measurement Canada.
  • In bags or boxes (smaller quantities): Firewood is also sold at retail in bags or boxes by stacked volume expressed in cubic decimetres (dm³). Accuracy and labelling requirements for packaged firewood are found in the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act and Regulations, which are administered by the Competition Bureau.

Selling bulk firewood

The following are examples of legal units of measurement for use when selling bulk firewood in Canada:

  • The stacked cubic metre (stacked m³), which is 1 cubic metre (about 35.3 cubic feet) of neatly stacked firewood, including wood, bark and airspace.
  • The cubic foot.
  • The cord, which is 128 cubic feet or about 3.6 stacked cubic metres of firewood, including wood, bark and airspace.

Measurement Canada recommends that the use of the cord as a unit of measurement be discontinued, as it is largely misunderstood and often misused by people selling firewood. For example, some sellers use illegal terms such as "face cord", "stove cord", "apartment cord", "furnace cord" and "short cord" to refer to a quantity smaller than 128 cubic feet. Such terms frequently lead to confusion about the actual quantity of firewood being sold.

To avoid any confusion about the amount of firewood purchased or sold, Measurement Canada recommends the use of the stacked cubic metre when purchasing or selling bulk firewood.

How to measure bulk firewood

Stack the firewood neatly in a row, ensuring that individual pieces are touching and parallel to each other with as few gaps as possible.

Figure 1: Bulk Firewood

Figure 1: Bulk Firewood
Description of Figure 1

Pile of firewood neatly stacked in rows between two vertical planks with all logs facing the same direction. The length, width and height of the stack are labelled.

Measure the length, height and width of the stack.

If the stack is measured in centimetres (cm):

  1. multiply the length, height and width; and
  2. divide the result by 1 000 000 to get stacked cubic metres.

    For example:

    290 cm × 120 cm × 34 cm = 1 183 200 cm³

    1 183 200 cm³ ÷ 1 000 000 = 1.18 stacked m³

If the stack is measured in inches:

  1. multiply the length, height and width; and
  2. divide the result by 1 728 cubic inches to get cubic feet.

    For example:

    96 inches (8 feet) × 48 inches (4 feet) × 48 inches (4 feet) = 221 184 cubic inches

    221 184 ÷ 1 728 = 128 cubic feet (1 cord)

To convert cubic feet to stacked cubic metres, divide the number of cubic feet by 35.3:

128 ÷ 35.3 = 3.6 m³

Get what you paid for

Taking the following precautions when purchasing bulk firewood will help ensure that you get what you pay for.

When ordering firewood:

  • Ask the seller to state the quantity of firewood being sold in stacked cubic metres (m³) or cubic feet (do not accept terms such as "face cord", "stove cord", "truckload" or "trunkful").
  • Ask for the firewood to be delivered stacked in the truck so that you can measure it before it is unloaded.

When receiving the firewood:

  • Be present at the time of delivery; do not rely on a neighbour to accept delivery on your behalf.
  • Ask for a receipt that shows:
    • the quantity and type of firewood purchased;
    • the seller's name, address and telephone number; and
    • the price paid.
  • Write down the licence plate number of the delivery vehicle.
  • If the firewood is not stacked on the truck so that you can measure it, immediately following delivery:
    • neatly stack and measure the firewood to calculate the quantity you received (see the How to measure bulk firewood section above)

Buying firewood in Nova Scotia

Before buying firewood in Nova Scotia, consult the Nova Scotia Registry of Firewood Vendors. This voluntary registry provides consumers with a list of firewood vendors who have agreed to conduct business according to the Code of Ethics of the registry.

Restrictions on moving firewood

Did you know that moving firewood can spread invasive insects? Canadian Food Inspection Agency policies control the movement of firewood from regulated areas of Canada.

Think you have been shortchanged?

If you received less firewood than you paid for, contact the seller before using any of the firewood and try to resolve the issue. If you are unable to resolve the issue or if you need additional information about firewood measurement, please contact Measurement Canada.

If you have questions or want information about packaged firewood sold at the retail level, please contact the Competition Bureau.

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